Church seeks justice over Catholic’s murder in Bangladesh

Church seeks justice over Catholic’s murder in Bangladesh

Criminals are believed to be targeting villagers because they belong to a religious minority

Stephan Uttom Rozario  Stephan Uttom, Dhaka Published: February 03, 2022 11:11 AM GMT
Church seeks justice over Catholic's murder in Bangladesh
Thousands of people march in front of Our Lady of Guidance Church in Barishal Diocese on Feb. 2 to demand justice ‍and the rapid arrest of criminals who murdered an elderly Catholic. (Photo supplied)

Catholics in a Bangladeshi diocese are protesting the murder of an elderly Catholic and looting of his house, saying criminals in the Muslim-majority area target them because of their peace-loving nature.

Some 1,000 people demonstrated on the street for a third day on Feb. 3 seeking the immediate arrest of criminals who attacked the Catholic’s home in Padrishibpur village that comes under Barishal Diocese.

“We are attacked because we are a minority. We don’t seek action or protest when attacked,” said Father Anol Terence D’Costa, convener of Barisal Diocese’s social media commission.

Unidentified people attacked the house of 94-year-old Melcome D. Costa on Jan. 29 after rendering six members of the family unconscious with drugs and looted all their valuables. Costa died in hospital on Jan. 31, while the other five family members are yet to recover.

Catholic leaders at the protest said a young man had visited Costa’s house and mixed anesthetics with the food. After eating the food, everyone fell unconscious that night while Costa remained conscious.

At least three young men entered the house through an open window and Costa was attacked when he tried to stop them. Later, when he also fainted, the youths took everything in the house including cash and gold ornaments worth an estimated 750,000 taka (US$8,714) and fled, said neighbor Pius D’Costa.

Christians face various problems in the village, which was not the case earlier. I think we are being attacked because we are a minority

Father D’Costa said such attacks “are not new” in the Muslim-dominated area, where Christians began to settle in the 18th century. Christians’ inability to organize and protest such attacks makes them prone to increased attacks, he said.

He said the parishioners’ protest will continue until the police arrested the criminals.

Holy Cross Archbishop Lawrence Subrato Howlader of Chattogram, Apostolic Administrator of Barishal Diocese, visited the parish and joined protesters calling for the immediate arrest of the criminals.

“We are also talking with the administration and local politicians, demanding financial support for the family and exemplary punishment for the criminals,” Holy Cross Father D’Costa told UCA News.

A similar incident took place at a home in the same area and a young woman was raped last year. The case is still pending.

The villagers felt that the incident was planned and that the criminals targeted them because they belong to a religious minority.

“Our village is a very old Christian settlement. There are various problems being created here lately,” said Lina Gomes, a Catholic resident.

Lina Gomes, a Catholic in the village who joined the protest, said: “Christians face various problems in the village, which was not the case earlier. I think we are being attacked because we are a minority.”

As the victims have not fully regained consciousness, no case has been registered but the police are trying to find the culprits, said Alauddin Milon, the officer in charge of Bakergonj police station.

“As soon as we got news of the incident, we went to the spot and collected clues. I hope we can catch the culprits as soon as possible.”

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